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Council chief takes over CCG in move to ACO

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  • Northumberland County Council chief executive to become accountable officer of Northumberland CCG
  • HSJ understands Stephen Mason takes over at the CCG from chief clinical officer Alistair Blair from 1 December 
  • Mr Blair is expected to take up the role of independent chair of the accountable care organisation’s board
  • The move paves the way for the ACO by allowing the council and CCG to jointly commission services while maintaining independence to fulfil their statutory duties

The chief executive of a county council is to become accountable officer of a vanguard clinical commissioning group as part of plans to pave the way for a new accountable care organisation, LGC’s sister title Health Service Journal has learned.



Northumberland CC chief executive Steven Mason is to become the accountable officer for Northumberland CCG, taking over from current chief clinical officer Alistair Blair. Mr Mason will retain his role at the council. Dr Blair is expected to become independent chair of the new joint board leading the ACO.

HSJ understands the plan will allow the county council and CCG to effectively form one commissioning body for health and social care. The two organisations are not formally merging because legally both must continue to exist to fulfil their statutory commissioning duties.

The ACO is due to go live in April next year and will take on the budgets for all services except primary care covering a population of about 320,000, making it a “partially integrated” primary and acute care system.

mason steven

mason steven

Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust will hold a single contract for acute, mental health, community services and adult social care services following a prior information notice which closed in September. Northumbria Healthcare was the only provider to express an interest in running the new care model during the PIN process.

HSJ was told the contract and funding would be coordinated by a joint “accountable care organisation” board, hosted by Northumbria Healthcare but also representing Northumberland Tyne and Wear FT, local GPs and other providers.

How GP practices will be represented is not yet known, however HSJ understands Dr Blair, a GP, will take up the position of independent chair of the new joint board after he leaves Northumberland CCG.

Northumberland CCG is expecting to report an end of year deficit and was one of a number of commissioning groups rated as “inadequate” by NHS England during the so-called “re-set” in July.

The ACO is intended to begin operating under its new contract in April. When it does go live the majority of Northumberland CCG’s staff will be moved over to Northumbria Healthcare, while the rest will remain part of the CCG under Mr Mason to fulfil the CCG’s statutory commissioning duties.

However HSJ understands that this could be delayed as the contract has not yet been designed, while the outline business case for the new care model has not yet been produced.

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